Whole-Foods, Plant-Based Diet: A Detailed Beginner’s Guide

There are many arguments about which diet is best for you. however, health and health communities agree that diets emphasizing clean, hale ingredients and minimizing processed foods are superior for overall health.

The whole-foods, plant-based diet does just that. It focuses on minimally processed foods, specifically plants, and is effective at stimulating weight loss and improving health. This article reviews everything you need to know about the whole-foods, plant-based diet, including its potential health benefits, foods to eat and a sample meal plan . share on Pinterest

What Is a Whole-Foods, Plant-Based Diet?

There is no clear definition of a what constitutes a whole-foods, plant-based diet ( WFPB diet ). The WFPB diet is not inevitably a set diet — it ’ s more of a life style. This is because plant-based diets can vary greatly depending on the extent to which a person includes animal products in their diet. however, the basic principles of a whole-foods, plant-based diet are as follows :

  • Emphasizes whole, minimally processed foods.
  • Limits or avoids animal products.
  • Focuses on plants, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds and nuts, which should make up the majority of what you eat.
  • Excludes refined foods, like added sugars, white flour and processed oils.
  • Pays special attention to food quality, with many proponents of the WFPB diet promoting locally sourced, organic food whenever possible.

For these reasons, this diet is frequently confused with vegan or vegetarian diets. Yet although similar in some ways, these diets are not the like. People who follow vegan diets abstain from consuming any animal products, including dairy, kernel, poultry, seafood, eggs and beloved. Vegetarians exclude all kernel and poultry from their diets, but some vegetarians eat eggs, seafood or dairy. The WFPB diet, on the other hand, is more compromising. Followers eat by and large plants, but animal products aren ’ triiodothyronine off limits. While one person following a WFPB diet may eat no animal products, another may eat modest amounts of eggs, domestic fowl, seafood, kernel or dairy .

Summary The whole-foods, plant-based diet emphasizes plant-based foods while minimizing animal products and process items .

It Can Help You Lose Weight and Improve Your Health

Obesity is an issue of epidemic proportions. In fact, over 69 % of US adults are corpulence or corpulent ( 1 ). fortunately, making dietary and life style changes can facilitate system of weights loss and have a survive impact on health. many studies have shown that plant-based diets are beneficial for weight loss. The high fiber contented of the WFPB diet, along with the exception of processed foods, is a winning combination for shedding excess pounds. A review of 12 studies that included more than 1,100 people found that those assigned to plant-based diets lost importantly more slant — about 4.5 pounds ( 2kg ) over an median of 18 weeks — than those assigned to non-vegetarian diets ( 2 ). Adopting a healthy plant-based consume practice may besides help keep weight off in the long run. A study in 65 corpulence and corpulent adults found that those assigned to a WFPB diet lost significantly more weight unit than the control group and were able to sustain that slant loss of 9.25 pounds ( 4.2kg ) over a annual follow-up period ( 3 ). Plus, just cutting out the work foods that aren ’ thymine allowed on a WFPB diet like pop, candy, flying food and complicate grains is a knock-down weight loss tool itself ( 4, 5 ) .

Summary many studies have demonstrated that whole-food, plant-based diets are effective for weight loss. They may besides help you maintain weight unit loss in the long discharge .

It Benefits a Number of Health Conditions

Adopting a whole-foods, plant-based diet not merely benefits your waist, but it can besides lower your risk and reduce symptoms of certain chronic diseases .

Heart Disease

possibly one of the most well-known benefits of WFPB diets is that they are heart-healthy. however, the quality and types of foods included in the diet matter. A large study in over 200,000 people found that those who followed a healthy plant-based diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, legumes and nuts had a importantly lower risk of developing heart disease than those follow non-plant-based diets. however, insalubrious plant-based diets that included sugary drinks, fruit juices and refined grains were associated with a slenderly increased risk of heart disease ( 6 ). Consuming the right kinds of food is critical for heart disease prevention when following a plant-based diet, which is why adhering to a WFPB diet is the best choice .


research suggests that following a plant-based diet may reduce your risk of sealed types of cancer. A study in over 69,000 people found that vegetarian diets were associated with a significantly lower risk of gastrointestinal cancer, specially for those who followed a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet ( vegetarians who eat eggs and dairy ) ( 7 ). Another big study in more than 77,000 people demonstrated that those who followed vegetarian diets had a 22 % lower risk of developing colorectal cancer than non-vegetarians. Pescatarians ( vegetarians who eat fish ) had the greatest protection from colorectal cancer with a 43 % reduced hazard compared to non-vegetarians ( 8 ) .

Cognitive Decline

Some studies suggest that diets rich in vegetables and fruits may help slow or prevent cognitive descent and Alzheimer ’ s disease in older adults. Plant-based diets have a higher number of plant compounds and antioxidants, which have been shown to slow the progression of Alzheimer ’ s disease and reverse cognitive deficits ( 9 ). In many studies, higher intakes of fruits and vegetables have been powerfully associated with a reduction in cognitive refuse. A reappraisal of nine studies including over 31,000 people found that eating more fruits and vegetables led to a 20 % decrease in the risk of developing cognitive deterioration or dementia ( 10 ) .


Adopting a WFPB diet may be an effective tool in manage and reducing your risk of developing diabetes.

A discipline in more than 200,000 people found that those who adhered to a healthy plant-based consume pattern had a 34 % lower risk of developing diabetes than those who followed unhealthy, non-plant-based diets ( 11 ). Another study demonstrated that plant-based diets ( vegan and lacto-ovo vegetarian ) were associated with about a 50 % reduction in the gamble of type 2 diabetes compared to non-vegetarian diets ( 12 ). Plus, plant-based diets have been shown to improve blood boodle control in people with diabetes ( 13 ) .

Summary Following a whole-foods, plant-based diet may reduce your risk of developing heart disease, certain cancers, cognitive worsen and diabetes .

Adopting a Whole-Foods, Plant-Based Diet Is Good for the Planet

Switching to a plant-based diet not only benefits your health — it can help protect the environment, a good. People who follow plant-based diets tend to have smaller environmental footprints. Adopting sustainable corrode habits can help reduce greenhouse flatulence emissions, urine consumption and estate used for factory farming, which are all factors in ball-shaped heating and environmental degradation. A inspection of 63 studies showed that the largest environmental benefits were seen from diets containing the least amount of animal-based foods such as vegan, vegetarian and pescatarian diets. The report reported that a 70 % reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and bring use and 50 % less body of water habit could be achieved by shifting westerly diet patterns to more sustainable, plant-based dietary patterns ( 14 ). What ’ s more, reducing the issue of animal products in your diet and buy local, sustainable produce helps drive the local economy and reduces reliance on factory farming, an unsustainable method acting of food production .

Summary Plant-based diets emphasizing local ingredients are more environmentally friendly than diets that rely heavily on mass-produce animal products and produce .

Foods to Eat on a Whole-Foods, Plant-Based Diet

From eggs and bacon for breakfast to steak for dinner, animal products are the focus of most meals for many people. When switching to a plant-based diet, meals should center around plant-based foods. If animal foods are eaten, they should be eaten in smaller quantities, with attention paid to the quality of the token. Foods like dairy, eggs, domestic fowl, kernel and seafood should be used more as a complement to a plant-based meal, not as the main focal sharpen .

A Whole-Foods, Plant-Based Shopping List

  • Fruits: Berries, citrus fruits, pears, peaches, pineapple, bananas, etc.
  • Vegetables: Kale, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, asparagus, peppers, etc.
  • Starchy vegetables: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, etc.
  • Whole grains: Brown rice, rolled oats, farro, quinoa, brown rice pasta, barley, etc.
  • Healthy fats: Avocados, olive oil, unsweetened coconut, etc.
  • Legumes: Peas, chickpeas, lentils, peanuts, black beans, etc.
  • Seeds, nuts and nut butters: Almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, natural peanut butter, tahini, etc.
  • Unsweetened plant-based milks: Coconut milk, almond milk, cashew milk, etc.
  • Spices, herbs and seasonings: Basil, rosemary, turmeric, curry, black pepper, salt, etc.
  • Condiments: Salsa, mustard, nutritional yeast, soy sauce, vinegar, lemon juice, etc.
  • Plant-based protein: Tofu, tempeh, plant-based protein sources or powders with no added sugar or artificial ingredients.
  • Beverages: Coffee, tea, sparkling water, etc.

If supplementing your plant-based diet with animal products, choose quality products from grocery store stores or, better however, purchase them from local farms .

  • Eggs: Pasture-raised when possible.
  • Poultry: Free-range, organic when possible.
  • Beef and pork: Pastured or grass-fed when possible.
  • Seafood: Wild-caught from sustainable fisheries when possible.
  • Dairy: Organic dairy products from pasture-raised animals whenever possible.

Summary A healthy, WFPB diet should focus on plant foods like vegetables, fruits, hale grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. If animal products are eaten, they should be eaten in smaller quantities compared to plant foods .

Foods to Avoid or Minimize on This Diet

The WFPB diet is a manner of eating that focuses on consuming foods in their most lifelike shape. This means that heavy processed foods are excluded. When purchasing groceries, focus on fresh foods and, when purchasing foods with a label, bearing for items with the fewest possible ingredients .

Foods to Avoid

  • Fast food: French fries, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, etc.
  • Added sugars and sweets: Table sugar, soda, juice, pastries, cookies, candy, sweet tea, sugary cereals, etc.
  • Refined grains: White rice, white pasta, white bread, bagels, etc.
  • Packaged and convenience foods: Chips, crackers, cereal bars, frozen dinners, etc.
  • Processed vegan-friendly foods: Plant-based meats like Tofurkey, faux cheeses, vegan butters, etc.
  • Artificial sweeteners: Equal, Splenda, Sweet’N Low, etc.
  • Processed animal products: Bacon, lunch meats, sausage, beef jerky, etc.

Foods to Minimize

While healthy animal foods can be included in a WFPB diet, the following products should be minimized in all plant-based diets .

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Sheep
  • Game meats
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Seafood

Summary When following a WFPB diet, highly processed foods should be avoided and animal products minimized .

A Sample Meal Plan for One Week

Transitioning to a whole-foods, plant-based diet doesn ’ t have to be challenging. The keep up one-week menu can help set you up for success. It includes a belittled numeral of animal products, but the extent to which you include animal foods in your diet is up to you. Monday

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal made with coconut milk topped with berries, coconut and walnuts.
  • Lunch: Large salad topped with fresh vegetables, chickpeas, avocado, pumpkin seeds and goat cheese.
  • Dinner: Butternut squash curry.


  • Breakfast: Full-fat plain yogurt topped with sliced strawberries, unsweetened coconut and pumpkin seeds.
  • Lunch: Meatless chili.
  • Dinner: Sweet potato and black bean tacos.


  • Breakfast: A smoothie made with unsweetened coconut milk, berries, peanut butter and unsweetened plant-based protein powder.
  • Lunch: Hummus and veggie wrap.
  • Dinner: Zucchini noodles tossed in pesto with chicken meatballs.


  • Breakfast: Savory oatmeal with avocado, salsa and black beans.
  • Lunch: Quinoa, veggie and feta salad.
  • Dinner: Grilled fish with roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli.


  • Breakfast: Tofu and vegetable frittata.
  • Lunch: Large salad topped with grilled shrimp.
  • Dinner: Roasted portobello fajitas.


  • Breakfast: Blackberry, kale, cashew butter and coconut protein smoothie.
  • Lunch: Vegetable, avocado and brown rice sushi with a seaweed salad.
  • Dinner: Eggplant lasagna made with cheese and a large green salad.


  • Breakfast: Vegetable omelet made with eggs.
  • Lunch: Roasted vegetable and tahini quinoa bowl.
  • Dinner: Black bean burgers served on a large salad with sliced avocado.

As you can see, the estimate of a whole-foods, plant-based diet is to use animal products meagerly. however, many people following WFPB diets eat more or fewer animal products depending on their specific dietary needs and preferences .

Summary You can enjoy many different delightful meals when following a whole-foods, plant-based diet. The above menu can help you get started .

The Bottom Line

A whole-foods, plant-based diet is a means of eating that celebrates plant foods and cuts out unhealthy items like total sugars and refined grains.

Plant-based diets have been linked to a number of health benefits, including reducing your risk of heart disease, certain cancers, fleshiness, diabetes and cognitive refuse. Plus, transitioning to a more plant-based diet is an excellent option for the planet. regardless of the type of whole-foods, plant-based diet you choose, adopting this way of eat is surely to boost your health .

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